Our Impact

Creating a new livelihood around the yak

Norlha's Transformative Approach

Today, for Tibetan nomads on the Plateau the Yak is the thread that connects the past to the future. Norlha’s workers all come from nomad families and most of them have lived the life of a herder at one time or other. Today, they see themselves and their children moving away from this livelihood, which has lost its appeal to the youth who inevitably come in touch with the market economy that has transformed the world, and China.

Around the yak, Norlha employees have learned not only to spin and weave, but taken on managerial positions in production, sales and other areas. Instead of herding the yak, they transform its fiber into a world class product, becoming linked to the world in the process. Young people meet and Norlha and built their family life around their positions there. They live and thrive in the village of their origin, where they see their future. Their disposable income allows them to invest in better houses and education for their children. The yak is still the source of their livelihood; its continued presence and importance maintains a vital link between past and future.

Maintaining the yak as the source of livelihood.

Empowering people.

Working vertically to control all aspects of the product.

Transforming a timeless fiber through creation and innovation.

Maintaining the yak as the source of livelihood.

Working vertically to control all aspects of the product.

Empowering people.

Transforming a timeless fiber through creation and innovation.


Nomadism is on the decline. The 21st century is colliding with traditional herding, and the hard life that comes with it. Young people, especially those who have received some education, feel the urge to move forward, not necessarily knowing how, trying to redefine themselves in a wave of change that is coming too fast. Norlha strives to be an example of change within a familiar environment, one that moves ahead without compromising core cultural values. Norlha’s 130 employees have a far-reaching impact; their disposable income will lead to others in the village earning their livelihood around their needs, establishing restaurants, shops and services in house improvements and standards will rise for everyone. They will purchase cars and visit other areas, smart phones that will connect them to distant friends and establish groups of interest. They will invest in their children’s education and gain more confidence in the future. They will circulate new ideas that will help them grow in a familiar context.

In an ever shifting world, it is important to move beyond values that are no longer relevant, and learn to navigate change without losing one’s identity.

Read their stories

Cultural Impact

Disposable income from Norlha’s employees has had a far reaching effect on Ritoma’s a communal and cultural activities: Larger and more frequent contributions to the monastery and the different festivals that mark the life of the extended community, investment  in race horses and the purchase of traditional clothing and furniture. Ceremonies and events became more vibrant and frequent and singers, poets, artists and craftsmen gained support and appreciation. 

To be genuine and sustainable, culture must grow on its own. Ritoma’s inhabitants are culturally conscious and traditionally rooted. Providing them with a living in their natural context, in this case, the yak, will organically lead to the continuity and flourish of culture. 

Read about Tibetan Buddhism and Culture

Environmental Impact

The race for the market that marked the last two decades have lead nomads to invest in higher numbers of cattle. They saw opportunities for more income and herding was all they knew. The negative impact has been the decimation of the pasture, which results in gradual erosion and an impact on the animals’ health. Establishing Norlha has proven that herding is not the only means of livelihood and that income can be diversified. Many families have now sold their animals, opting for a regular job and the stable income that it brings. This has eased the burden on those who continue to herd and now have more and better grassland to feed their flocks. 

Learn more about the Natural Surroundings

Impact in Numbers

100% Yak khullu suppliers live on the Tibetan plateau

98% Employees are from the local community

61% Of the workforce is female

31% Households in the Ritoma region with at least one Norlha employee

0% Of our processes use pesticides

116 Locals no longer rely on animal husbandry as their main source of income

1,450 Fewer yaks grazing the plateau, aiding recovery from over-grazing

5,800 Fewer sheep grazing the plateau, aiding recovery from over-grazing

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Published Media

Au Fil Du Monde: Tibet

A 90-min documentary by Jill Coulon and Isabelle Dupuy Chavanat

Watch trailer


A 60-min documentary by Oscar-Winner Ruby Yang

Watch trailer


Take a deeper look into the history of Norlha with this 250-page picture book

find it on amazon
Find more videos on our YouTube channel

What the press says about Norlha